Hodges Baily, Edward (English, 1788-1867)

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Edward Hodges Baily (1788-1867) was a prominent 19th Century English sculptor.

Although Baily began work in a mercantile house, at the age of sixteen he abandoned this in favour of a career in sculpture. The famous English sculptor John Flaxman was so impressed by Baily’s early models that he took him on as pupil in 1807. Under Flaxman, Baily augmented and improved his natural artistic abilities and entered the Royal Academy schools in 1809. Here he won a Royal Academy gold medal in 1811 for his model of Hercules restoring Alcestis to Admetus.

Baily’s work quickly became critically acclaimed, and the sculptor was entrusted with carving the bas-reliefs on the south side of the Marble arch in Hyde Park. In addition, Baily executed numerous busts and statues of public figures, among which is the famous statue of Nelson that stands at the top of Nelson’s Column in London’s Trafalgar Square.

Despite his artistic success, Baily’s life was plagued by financial insecurity and bankruptcy. His appeals to the Royal Academy for financial assistance proved successful, and in the 1860s Baily was able to retire in moderate comfort before his death in 1867. Baily is buried in London’s Highgate Cemetery, and his work remains highly esteemed for its exceptional quality and impressive naturalism.